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Belize Defence Force Commandant says compensation for families of helicopter crash victims will be settled by Government

Posted: Monday, March 13, 2023. 9:28 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Commandant of the Belize Defence Force, Brigadier General Azariel Loria, has indicated the Force has turned over the matter of compensation for the families of Corporal Yassir Mendez and Corporal Reinaldo Choco, killed in the Northern Lagoon helicopter crash of March 2020, to the Government to deal with.

According to General Loria, he is not privy to the specifics but he assured that the Government is handling the matter: “I have been briefed about the situation. It happened in 2020 so it’s [been] about two or three years. I think that one or two families have collected but there are two families that continue to litigate it in court and I believe that the Government of Belize is trying to settle it out of court. The amounts I am not that privy to, but we are trying to settle it or the Government of Belize is trying to settle it out of court.”

As he further noted, the pilots, Major Radford Baizar and Major Adrian Martinez were found to be partially at fault, but also that the helicopter should not have been flying at the time as it did not carry night vision capability, but that it was a risk taken by the pilots. Nonetheless, the Force has since explicitly prohibited night-time flights without carrying night vision equipment.

The attorney for the families of Corporal Choco and Corporal Mendez, Audrey Matura, made a public plea a few weeks ago for the Force and the Government to settle this matter and help the families seek closure on an event that shocked the nation.

 

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